Regardless of why you are going shopping at Target, it’s hard not to resist bringing your pup along for the ride, but is your dog allowed inside the store?
Unfortunately, Target has a strict ‘No Pets Allowed’ policy for all of their stores nationwide and will not allow dogs to be permitted inside. An exception to this is if you have a dog that is used as a service animal, in which case your dog will be allowed inside of Target.
Most businesses these days, unfortunately, do not permit dogs (or pets in general) inside of their property. Unless a business is declared ‘Pet Friendly’, it is likely that they will not allow dogs inside. The reason for this is that having a dog inside of their business puts their company at risk of violating health protocols and other restrictions. This sort of black and white stance on pets tends to be especially common with large businesses and corporations that undergo a lot of regulations. With that being said, there are some ways to go around Target’s harsh anti-dog policy. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about taking your pup to Target!
The policies that Target has in place regarding dogs and pets are updated on an annual basis on their official website. If you plan on taking your dog to Target, you should be sure to be aware of their current policy in place to avoid any unpleasant situations at their store - including legal action.
Taking Your Dog To Target
If you are like me, you know how hard it is to leave your dog home all alone while you go out to run errands while making a stop to shop at Target. Much like the rest of us, it does a dog good to get out of the house for an adventure every now and then - no matter how small!
While I normally try to seek out places like pet-friendly cafes that let me bring my dog inside, they are often seldom seen. In addition, most of these establishments only cover a stop or two on our daily errands, which can make hitting Target pretty inconvenient.
This, however, does not stop a lot of Target shoppers from trying, as many people are too persistent and dedicated to their pets to simply leave them at home. While this approach to defying Target’s no-pet policy may work sometimes - as some stores are more regulatory for this kind of thing others - most will give you trouble at the door when you try to bring your dog inside.
There is a key exception to bringing your dog inside of Target and even a couple of sneaky workarounds. Let’s dive into how to take your dog to Target.
Aside from being man’s best friend, dogs are also helpful in our lives in so many other ways. The companionship a dog gives its owner can go far beyond being a friend but also a protector, professional guide, and even providing psychological support.
Dogs that have these qualities are not your everyday pups and have undergone specialized training that makes them qualified service dogs.
A person’s service dog can make all the difference between life and death for some owners, which is why they are highly valued members of society. Aside from supporting their owner in all of the ways that they have been trained to perform, it is often the case that service dogs are actually required to stand by their owner at all times when they go out of the house.
With that being said, service dogs are guaranteed entry at all Target stores and you will not have any issue bringing your dog inside. Here are some examples of trained service dogs that will assist their owner with the following potential conditions:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Wheelchair Assistance
- Walking Assistance
- Other Mental Illnesses
Target recognizes the importance of having a service dog accompany their valued customers and sympathizes with their disability needs, which is why these dogs are permitted in their stores nationwide. While you are not likely to be questioned or harassed by any employee if you have an obvious service dog by your side, it may be wise to keep some documentation for your animal handy. You will find that all dogs that have been certified as service dogs will have an official certification for you to present to officials.
While Target has a clear no pet policy for their stores, there are plenty of people that get away with bringing their dogs inside of their stores. The reason for this is that although all stores are required to abide by the same official Target policies, some stores have less strict management and often look the other way for some minor violations.
One of the most common ways people bring their dogs into Target is by bringing a small dog with them. Unfortunately for big pups, small dogs tend to attract a lot less attention and are able to sneak their way into ‘No-Pet Zones’ much more frequently than most other pets.
With that being said, small dogs that make themselves known by barking, growling, or doing a number on the floor generally attract the wrong kind of attention which gets them (and you) kicked out of a lot of establishments.
Moreover, one of the common ways even small dogs are denied entry into Target is when they misbehave but also when they are blatantly being walked around the store as if they were at a dog park. To avoid any unpleasant situations, you should skip the leash approach and go for a pet carrier instead. You will have a hard time doing this with your Great Dane but smaller dogs like Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, and even most Terriers will comfortably snuggle into most pet carriers.
This is the best approach for going under the radar when bringing your pup into Target, as you will be much less noticeable, less likely to disturb customers in the store, and also have a harder time violating policies associated with ‘No-Pet Zones’. You should approach this cautiously and perhaps ask permission from a Target employee beforehand, as you are still technically violating their No-Pet Policy.
No pet policies can be a huge pain (for you and your dog). It is unfortunate that so many businesses have such a harsh stance on allowing dogs on their premises, but at the end of the day, we all have to accept that people are going to run their business on their own terms.
So, if you do not have a legitimate, certified service dog with you and want to fully respect Target’s no pets allowed policy, then you may not be completely out of luck, as there are some quick workarounds you can utilize to play it safe while still taking your dog along for the ride.
Bring A Friend Or Partner
The more the merrier. If you can bring a friend or loved one with you, this makes your shopping spree at Target a whole lot easier, as you can have someone with you to chaperone and entertain your beloved animal while you head inside.
While you take care of your shopping, your ride-along partner can walk your dog around the rest of the property or even off the premises completely.
If you end up taking this approach you should make sure to bring a leash with you, some doggie bags, water, and perhaps even some treats (your dog won’t mind).
Leave Your Dog In The Car
This approach tends to make many people cringe - and in many cases, for good reason. Leaving your dog in the car should by no means be your first approach, but it does not necessarily need to be your last.
Leaving a dog in a car in extreme weather conditions is cruel, inhumane, and illegal! This is why you want to carefully assess the outside climate before even considering leaving your dog in the car alone.
If the weather conditions are even slightly above warm - or cold past needing a light jacket, you should not leave your dog in the car while you go to Target. You should approach this with extreme caution if your dog has a very thick coat for warm conditions and a very thin coat for cold conditions.
However, if conditions are stable, there is no reason why you can not leave your dog in the car for a short period of time while you do your shopping at Target. You should make sure that your trip inside is lightning fast (no more than 15 minutes) and absolutely leave your windows open for your pup to get fresh air. Be sure to check your state’s local laws regarding leaving pets in cars, as they vary from state to state.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright